MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College turned up the pressure with 16 steals and recovered from an eight-point second half deficit to defeat a stubborn Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College team 72-64 Tuesday night at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers forced 24 turnovers and used a 14-0 run in the second half to come back and defeat the Trojans in a game dominated by turnovers and defense. IWC improved to 2-2 this year and rebounded from a pair of last-minute losses this weekend to ranked teams, while HLG dropped to 1-1 on the season.
Iowa Wesleyan, ranked 12th in the NAIA Division II preseason coaches’ poll, got a battle from the visitors from down the road in Missouri. The two teams swapped the lead 13 times and were tied seven times, including six times in the first half. The Tigers led by just one point at halftime, only after a three-pointer by Sheray Brown (Sr.-Detroit, Mich.) just before the break, and would eventually fall behind by a sizeable deficit early in the second half.
Hannibal-LaGrange outscored the Tigers 13-4 coming out of the halftime, taking a 43-35 lead with 14:47 left in the game. IWC seemed to be in some trouble at that point, but then stepped up the pressure on defense and forced six turnovers over the next four minutes. Meanwhile, Jill Ginder (Sr.-Olney, Ill.) rescued the Tigers with eight straight points, and her three-pointer gave Wesleyan the lead again at 44-43 with 12:22 remaining.
IWC built the lead to 49-43 before the Trojans came back. Hannibal chipped away and tied the game again at 53-53 with 8:11 remaining on a layup by Kayla Hruby. The Tigers retook the lead after two free throws by Abby Brend (Jr.-Ogden, Iowa), and would not trail the rest of the way. Wesleyan finally put it away with a 10-3 run capped by Brend’s layup making it 71-61 with 1:13 left.
Melanie McCreight (Sr.-Winfield, Iowa) led IWC with 20 points, while Ginder chipped in 14 points and Brend added 12. Brown led the team with 12 rebounds and Anna Jones (Jr.-Cornell, Ill.) added ten boards, and Jones also led the team with six assists.
The Tigers shot 40.0% for the game, making 22 of 55 shots. Wesleyan was 8-for-17 from three-point range though (47.1%) and made 20 of 25 free throws (80.0%). IWC also had 11 of its 16 steals in the second half, when it forced 15 of the Trojans’ 24 turnovers.
Natasha Bonner led HLG with 24 points, including six three-pointers. Angie Schwagmeyer added 14 points. The Trojans shot 43.9% (25 of 57) and out-rebounded the Tigers 37-35.
Iowa Wesleyan will be in Fremont, Neb., for the Midland (Neb.) University Classic this weekend. The Tigers will play the host Midland University at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and then will take on McPherson (Kan.) College on Saturday at 1 p.m. The IWC women will be on the road for the next two months and will not play another home game until hosting Waldorf College on Jan. 8.
Box score #12 IWC 72 HLG 64